Cutter Vigorous crewmember named top Coast Guard corpsman

Coast Guard Training Center Cape May NewsCAPE MAY, N.J. – A local Coast Guardsman was recognized as the service’s Independent Duty Health Services Technician of the Year aboard Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous homeported at Training Center Cape May Friday at 10:45 a.m.

Petty Officer 1st Class John Steward of Jacksonville, Fla., was selected from Coast Guard corpsman across the Nation as the Independent Duty Health Services Technician of the Year for 2010. Steward will be presented the award in a ceremony by Rear Adm. Maura Dollymore, the director of Coast Guard Health, Safety and Worklife.

“You can’t have a good team without a good coach, so I have to thank the leadership aboard Vigorous,” said Steward during his award ceremony. “Most importantly, I have to thank the crew because this isn’t my award – it’s our award. We’re a team, and I couldn’t have done any of these things without you.”

The award recognizes the best of the Coast Guard’s men and women who provide medical services aboard the Coast Guard’s ships and other isolated duty locations. Steward is responsible for the health and well being of the 80 crewmembers assigned to the 210-foot Cutter Vigorous, which is built for multi-week offshore patrols including operations requiring enhanced communications, and helicopter and pursuit boat operations.

Steward provided medical care for more than 150 migrants interdicted by the crew of Vigorous during counter human smuggling operations in 2010. He also responded to 11 acute medical emergencies aboard the cutter including multiple lacerations, fractures, infections, burns, bruises and serious illnesses.

Most notably, Steward recognized a crew member aboard Vigorous was exhibiting symptoms of a brain tumor one day prior to a Caribbean Patrol. Steward immediately made arrangements to have the member transported to a local hospital. Ultimately, the member’s tumor was treatable and was successfully removed at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

During annual Command Assessment of Readiness and Training, Steward completed the evaluation with only two minor discrepancies out of 93 line items. CART tests the ability of a Coast Guard cutter crew to respond to various emergencies and situations aboard the ship. During CART, he also achieved a medical readiness score of 96 percent, which was well over the Commandant of the Coast Guard’s goal of 90 percent. Steward’s drill scores averaged more than 97 percent for 22 comprehensive medical drills over a three week period, which helped earn the crew of Vigorous the coveted Battle “E” Award for Operational Excellence.

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